These days, HR professionals are spoiled for choice when it comes to ‘cool’ cloud applications. Why bother with spreadsheets when you can use new cloud-based talent management systems to get the job done, or a great looking recruiting platform that allow businesses to reach new prospects via social media?
It’s easy for businesses to get caught up in the excitement of all the new systems out there, and with good reason: the applications on offer today are completely elevating the practice of HR. But behind the scenes of these flashy front-end services lies the true power of HR; under the hood in the core HR system.
HR teams must be careful not to put the cart before the horse. Purchasing a number of standalone cloud solutions won’t enable them to make the most of their investment. To do this they must first focus on their vitally important core HR technology. While admittedly the least cool tool in HR’s technology toolbox, this core is the foundation upon which all else depends.
Without a cloud-based HR core to link together all their applications, businesses are left with a number of discreet services that aren’t being fed the information they need to deliver value. In other words, they are building on sandy ground.
For a parallel, consider Facebook, arguably the digital generation’s preferred platform for connecting with friends, sharing photos, and even finding highly tailored content. All this functionality is lost unless the basics are in place: without a profile for each user that includes their name, likes/dislikes, their contact lists, much of what makes Facebook such a compelling platform simply wouldn’t work.
In a business, the company org chart and real-time record of each worker’s role form the backbone of HR. When this information feeds in to business processes automatically via the cloud it can deliver significant value. If these elements aren’t connected to talent management or recruiting systems, however, an integrated HR strategy simply isn’t possible.
Consider Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and the allocation of work to individual employees. Businesses today need to combine HR core data with information from across the business – assessment data from recruitment, for example – to determine which employees would be best for a given project based on their competencies, potential and career ambitions.
This is the beauty of the cloud. It allows for simultaneous real-time updates to any HR application on multiple devices, It delivers greater oversight by simplifying and speeding up the sharing of important data, for example by allowing companies to compare data points from markets in America, Asia, and Africa and make any necessary adjustments to their regional strategies more proactively.
A cloud-based HR core is also instrumental in running business simulations to test the impact of running a new service, products or market penetration scenarios on the wider organization. The data used in the testing and refining of various approaches needs to be available to all affected applications, which requires that core HR information is linked to all these systems using the cloud. The major selling point here is that this allows the business to fine-tune much more quickly than they could ever achieve using traditional spreadsheets or adjusting data models manually.
Businesses today want a better understanding of their talent. They want to quickly see who their top performers are, which employees work well together, what skills each individual brings to the table, which in turn allows HR teams to address employees’ needs individually and provide more personalized guidance.
When integrated with HR applications such as talent management and performance management systems, core HR data goes a long way in helping the company build stronger engagement among employees and boost productivity
The old adage that beauty is not only skin deep is perhaps as relevant to technology as it is to people. The HR core may not be the flashiest element of a business’ IT, but the elegance with which it feeds the rest of an organization’s cloud applications is indisputable. Even as modern HR departments continue to embrace exciting new cloud applications, they need to build these systems around a rock-solid core to realise their full potential.